Before your NCF chapter launches a service project, it’s important to look at the immediate and long-term impact of your actions. These questions will guide you in exploring your motivations, practices and outcomes so that Jesus is honored and people are treated with dignity and respect. May the Lord equip you to effectively express your love for God and your desire to serve people created in His image!
1. What is the motivation for this project?
- Why has this project been chosen?
- Are there better ways to accomplish this project?
2. Who will be the beneficiaries of this project?
- Are the beneficiaries involved in the planning to help them address a problem and a solution they have identified? This will enhance their human dignity.
- What is currently being done to address the need of the beneficiaries (i.e., if this project did not occur, how would the beneficiaries meet this need)? Are other people or campus groups working with these beneficiaries? Consider partnering together in a common mission.
- How will the community at large be affected by this project? Will it set up disparities within the community?
3. What materials need to be obtained for this project?
- Are the proposed materials appropriate for this situation? Consider the costs involved.
- Will these materials be required on an ongoing basis? Is this sustainable long-term? Is a dependency on these products being created?
- Are materials available locally? Could obtaining them locally contribute to the economic development of the community?
4. What does this project communicate?
- Does this project reinforce values that come from a western, individualistic, or capitalistic worldview?
- Does this project reinforce the poverty mindset that devalues the image of God in all people? Do the beneficiaries believe that their poverty makes them unworthy of anything and therefore willing to agree to whatever is offered?
- Is the project committed to excellence and providing the best?
- Is the project only providing a temporary solution to a larger problem by simply putting a bandage on it?
5. What is the spiritual impact of this project?
- Is this project an expression of God’s love? Is it other-centered or self-centered?
- Whose need is really being met? Does it fulfill the sponsor's need to be needed, or does it meet a genuine need on the part of the beneficiary?
- Does this project build community?
- Is Jesus at the heart of this project? Does the project include evangelism and discipleship for both participants and beneficiaries?
- What part has prayer and Bible study played in this project?
- How will this project be a part of God’s Kingdom-building work?
Here are excellent books to help you clarify the immediate and long-term impact of service projects and mission experiences.
- Corbett, Steve, and Fikkert, Brian. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8024-5705-9
- Livermore, David A. Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Mission with Cultural Intelligence. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. ISBN978-0-8010-6616-0
- Schwartz, Glenn. When Charity Destroys Dignity: Overcoming Unhealthy Dependency in the Christian Movement. Lancaster, PA: World Mission Associates, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-9669735-4-9
- Lupton, Bob. Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse it. HarperOne, 2012
Find more resources at NCF Missions.